World Pneumonia Day

World Pneumonia Day

World Pneumonia Day is observed on 12th November every year. Pneumonia is the largest cause of death in children below the age of 5 years of age, accounting for more child mortality than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. In the year 2013, more than 90,0000 children died from this disease, which is otherwise preventable and treatable. World Pneumonia Day aims to

  • Raise awareness about pneumonia
  • Promote interventions to protect, prevent and treat pneumonia
  • Generate action to eradicate pneumonia

About Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an infection that occurs in one or both the lungs. It inflames the air sacs of the lungs, filling it with fluid or pus making it difficult for the patient to breathe. The symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.

Causes

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Mycoplasmas
  • Fungi
  • Various chemicals

Viral pneumonia can sometimes lead to bacterial pneumonia; therefore, it is important to understand the cause of pneumonia because the treatment depends on it.

Symptoms

  • Cough (sometimes with greenish or yellow mucus, or even a little blood)
  • Fever
  • Shivering and chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain
  • Headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of appetite, low energy and fatigue
  • Confusion (especially in older people)

These symptoms can vary depending on whether the pneumonia is bacterial or viral. In bacterial pneumonia the body temperature rises, leading to very high fever with sweating, increased breathing and pulse rate. The lips and nails become bluish in color due to lack of oxygen in the blood and the patient may be confused or in a disturbed state of mind. The symptoms of viral pneumonia are similar to that of influenza — fever, dry cough, headache, muscle pain and weakness. Within 12-36 hours there is increased breathing and the cough becomes worse, producing mucus.

Risk factors

  • Smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Any recent viral respiratory infection
  • Difficulty in swallowing (due to stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease or other neurological conditions)
  • Serious illnesses, such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, asthma
  • Living in a nursing facility, where others may be ill
  • A weak immune system due to illness or certain medications
  • Infants and people aged 65 and above

Some tips to prevent pneumonia:

  1. Vaccination: Infants and small children should get routine routine immunizations against whooping cough(pertussis) from 2 months of age. There are vaccines against pneumococcus, a common cause of bacterial pneumonia.
  2. Wash your hands often, especially after blowing your nose, going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and before eating and cooking food.
  3. Do not smoke. Smoking damages the lung’s ability to fight against the infection.
  4. Stay away from people who have cold, flu or other respiratory tract infections.
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